Google Docs getting major update

With the release of Microsoft's Office Web Apps imminent, Google understands the need to step up their game. The current version of Google Docs proves great as a collaboration tool, but, admittedly, contains nowhere near the capabilities of Microsoft's Office suite. Google plans to change that, and as a result, push themselves further into the hearts and pockets of companies worldwide.

On The Official Google Docs Blog, Google has announced an update to their popular Google Docs service. The update is considered to be a major change in the underlying engine used by the service. On their Enterprise Blog, Google sums up the aim of the pending changes.

"These improvements to Google Docs are designed to help businesses like yours move to the cloud faster and be more productive than ever before."

Below are some of the changes that have been made. The new features and improved performance come at the request of users worldwide.

Document editor

  • Real-time editing - see character by character changes made by all collaborators
  • Sidebar chat
  • Improved document formatting - imports and exports stay formatted correctly
  • Revamped comment system
  • Real margins and tab stops
  • Improved image layout inside documents

Spreadsheet editor

  • Speed and performance improvements
  • Formula bar for cell editing
  • Auto-complete
  • Drag and drop columns
  • Simpler navigation between sheets

Drawings editor

  • Real-time collaboration on flow charts, designs, diagrams, and other business graphics
  • Copy drawings into documents and spreadsheets using web clipboard
  • Share and publish drawings

The new editors are not compatible with Google Gears and will, therefore, not support offline mode at launch. In the near future, Google will harness the power of HTML5 to bring back offline support.

Google says that the drawings editor will be available today. Previews of the new spreadsheets and documents editors will be made public over the next few days. There will be an option at the top of a document or spreadsheet to use "New Version."

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30 Comments

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Does anyone find the real-time collaboration (seeing characters as others type them) useful? Its a feature already available in Wave.

soumyasch said,
Does anyone find the real-time collaboration (seeing characters as others type them) useful? Its a feature already available in Wave.

I think Google have many more Docs users than Wave users at this point.

Edited by Northgrove, Apr 13 2010, 7:43am :

soumyasch said,
Does anyone find the real-time collaboration (seeing characters as others type them) useful? Its a feature already available in Wave.

No, it's totally useless. Why would I want someone else to see what I am typing word-by-word? It's beyond me.

pezzonovante said,

No, it's totally useless. Why would I want someone else to see what I am typing word-by-word? It's beyond me.

Didn't you watch the video?

It's beyond a great idea. I really wish they'd implement something like this for programmers.

Strike X said,
Google docs is awesome but who use it? Not many.

I think Google is wasting their time on that development.

I'm seeing it getting used more and more every day..

Got several friends at different offices that use it, makes it easy for them to do their work at any workstation, and share it with others.. Though I'm sure those offices are still the exception, it is getting market penetration.

Strike X said,
Google docs is awesome but who use it? Not many.

I think Google is wasting their time on that development.


Hehe, and who exactly are you speaking for? Besides the above user's experiences, I also use it every now and then. It's good to get out some blog ideas when at the same time not having enough time to develop them into full blog posts. One could say I use it as a kind of notebook in the cloud, where I can take it further if I wish without even leaving the service since it's more powerful than that. It's nice to move on with ideas you got at lunch time at work when you later get home.

Edited by Northgrove, Apr 13 2010, 7:25am :

Strike X said,
Google docs is awesome but who use it? Not many.

I think Google is wasting their time on that development.

Google Docs has a very small (and casual) user-base. When Office Web Apps appear, even these users are going to leave.

pezzonovante said,

Google Docs has a very small (and casual) user-base. When Office Web Apps appear, even these users are going to leave.

We use Google Docs at the workplace. Now that we've started integrating it in to our daily roles, I can't imagine us dropping it for Office Web Apps. Especially considering the new features that Google are bringing and hopefully will continue to bring in order to stay in the competition.

Strike X said,
Google docs is awesome but who use it? Not many.

I think Google is wasting their time on that development.

I use it a lot at work when I need to share documentation information with my colleagues.

Google docs is awesome, and it is getting better as I see. Actually I don't use it for my important works, but for University notes etc. which I can reach from everywhere, so I don't have to bring my notebook with me all the time.

Well, Google Docs are already quite usable. I think you are exaggerating juuuust a bit.

But a nice big jump in features would be fantastic!

Very impressive, Honestly and I know I will most likely take some Flame for this, With the strides Google has made with Docs, I most likely wont be needing Open Office anymore for my free office needs.

littleneutrino said,
Very impressive, Honestly and I know I will most likely take some Flame for this, With the strides Google has made with Docs, I most likely wont be needing Open Office anymore for my free office needs.
I see myself probably dumping my MS Office software. I still wish you were able to link to other files when using formula's, that's probably the one thing that still holds me to Excel.

Edited by Greenstein, Apr 12 2010, 10:57pm :

still1 said,
awesome... but its blocked in my workplace :-( It is one useful tool. hope they unblock it..

Doesn't your workplace have any regular Office software then?

still1 said,
awesome... but its blocked in my workplace :-( It is one useful tool. hope they unblock it..

My workplace blocked it too, but if I use https:// then it's not blocked.